Jay Cutler proved to the Denver Broncos in 2006 that he was destined to be an elite quarterback. He was picked as an 11th overall draft pick and followed that with a stint in the 2008 Pro Bowl. But it didn’t take long for that destiny to be transferred to another team who would embrace him as their possible franchise quarterback, the Chicago Bears. Despite being a Type 1 diabetic and having to check his blood throughout a game, Jay Cutler can perform at a top level. Anyone who says that he does not have the strength to endure and cut it in the NFL has not witnessed the hard-knocks that he has had to endure.
He has a career 136 touchdowns and 100 interceptions. To be honest these are not impressive stats, including an average passer rating of 84, which is just normal. The question is can he be an elite quarterback? In order for that to happen, Jay Cutler needs key people to make this happen.
A Real and Consistent Offense
Former Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith had a special teams/defense mentality. He never really used Cutler’s potential and ignored his struggles in the pocket pawning him off to his offensive coordinators and quarterback coaches to fix. By allowing this, he unknowingly set Cutler up to fail in a league of elite quarterbacks. It was time to empty the locker room and offices and start fresh. However it had to begin with a new head coach: Marc Trestman.
The most important element of a quarterback is consistency. Cutler had learned 3 different playbooks in the last three years. Each of these playbooks was in opposition of each other, setting Cutler up to fail each time he stepped onto the field. It is imperative that Cutler receives a balance of protection and key opportunities to make scoring plays. With Devin Hester back in the punt return position, Cutler can now concentrate on natural wide receivers such as Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. Wide receivers Earl Bennett and Devin Aromashadu will most likely be used as slot receivers.
Let us not forget the much needed area of the tight end position. When TE Greg Olsen was traded to the Carolina Panthers in 2011, this left Cutler grasping for play makers. Unfortunately, TE Evan Rodriguez was not the answer. Cutler had no real connection on 3rd down plays. Now with Martellus Bennett on board, Cutlers options are bigger in a new scheme that has him throwing on short passes and less time holding the ball. The offense will be utilizing RB Matt Forte on both the running game and in short passes, while RB Michael Bush will be the work horse in the red zone.
What can’t be ignored is the left tackle position. This had to be the first area that general manager Phil Emery needed to fix. The struggles of LT J’Marcus Webb in this position became a painstaking event to watch. In 2012, Cutler showed his frustration with Webb’s inability to protect his blindside by a sideline shoulder bump. Though it made headlines in sports news, it was a clear sign that Cutler was done impersonating a heavy bag. His frustration was no longer ignored with the acquisition of LT Jermon Bushrod of the New Orleans Saints. However, if Bushrod is hurt OT Jonathan Scott will have to step it up.
With new protection and adjustments in offense, new target weapons on the field and a revitalized defense/special teams, the vision of a full balanced team is just over the horizon. It may be too soon to blow the horn of victory, as if all these changes will make the 2013 Chicago Bears Super Bowl bound. But at the end of the day, Cutler has no excuse not to be the elite quarterback he was destined to become. He will have to prove it in the 2013 season.